John not only broke news with a vigor and passion rarely seen but on occasion made it. The year fades into memory but John was the object of then NT cabinet minister Mick Palmer’s attention when he ‘snotted’ John during a session at the local Petty Sessions bar. From that event came, in part, John’s place in the annals of journalism in the Territory as being the man responsible for the immortal headline ‘Toothless MP head butts reporter’. Palmer, first removing his watch and teeth, admitted to having ‘snotted’ our man, then working at the Sunday Territorian.
John Loizou – a “journalist’s journalist” – passed away in the Royal Perth Hospital at 12.15a.m. on Thursday 17th January 2013.
Ashley Manicaros, who worked with John at the NT News described John as a “grumpy, cantankerous, old school journalist who knew how to dig up a scoop.”
John not only broke news with a vigor and passion rarely seen but on occasion made it. The year fades into memory but John was the object of then NT cabinet minister Mick Palmer’s attention when he ‘snotted’ John during a long afternoon at the local Petty Sessions bar.
That ‘snotting’ cemented John’s place in the annals of Territory journalism as being the man responsible for the immortal headline ‘Toothless MP head butts reporter’. Palmer, first removing his watch and teeth, admitted to having ‘snotted’ our man, then working at the Sunday Territorian.
It seems that news wasn’t the only thing that John could break. Paul Costigan of Darwin’s Roma Bar remembers that John once “gave me a friendly hug and cracked 2 of my ribs.”
Ex-Darwin barrister Brian Cassells was in Petty Sessions that day and remembers John as “one of the last old style journos. Dug for his own info and did not rely on ministerial releases. I was present at the infamous incident in the old Petty Sessions. John was a dedicated anarchist who never revealed his sources who’s accuracy was a cause of amazement to me. Last of his kind.”
Phil Cullen worked in Darwin as a journalist and local bureau chief at the ABC for many years and recalls that John “used to drive a Moke and would say that anyone who needed air-con and was afraid of a little rain wasn’t cut out for the Top End.”
This morning John’s colleague at the NT News Nigel Adlam published this tribute.
THE man considered by many to have been the Territory’s best-ever journalist has died.
John Loizou, who had been ill for several years, was 70.
He worked for the NT News and Sunday Territorian before moving to Hanoi in Vietnam.
But his first love was radio.
Loizou made the news himself when he was headbutted in a Darwin pub by then CLP Cabinet Minister Mick Palmer.
The reporter played football for Carlton reserves before moving to the Territory to work for the ABC. Loizou had a reputation for “going the biff” while playing for Wanderers and St Marys.
He won the NT Journalist of the Year award in the early 1990s for a story about two women who ran away from a Chinese sweat shop at Darwin’s NT government-owned Trade Development Zone.
Everybody was looking for the women — government goons, the police and the Chinese factory owners. Loizou found them — and discovered they were allowed only $1 a day from their pay.
Typically, he didn’t turn up to the awards ceremony — he was down the pub — and the trophy had to be collected on his behalf by the then photographic editor Clive Hyde.
Loizou had many other great scoops.
CLP Cabinet Minister at the time, Fred Finch, said in Parliament that street gangs were terrorising Casuarina, including an all-girl gang called the Black Mafia. Loizou disappeared from the Sunday Territorian office and returned two hours later with a pretty but tough-looking girl and announced: “This is the leader of the Black Mafia.”
He wrote in an old-fashioned style and often shook his head in disbelief at the way that tabloid newspapers “crunched” the English language.
But he had a great hunger to tell a good story — and hold the rich and famous to account.
Loizou was a Marxist but was impeccably balanced in his writing. He thought that Labor’s first chief minister, Clare Martin, made the Territory “a better, kinder place”.
Loizou, who died in Perth on Wednesday night, leaves his wife Cree, and two sons by his first marriage, Brendan and Damian.
If you knew John and want to add your memories please register and post your thoughts.